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Reading E-books on Your "iPad mini"

It's the weekend for the Apple iPad, and appropriately it looks like Steve Jobs has pulled another beautiful lust-inducing bunny out of his magic hat.

Besides the legions of early adapters lined up outside stores, the iPad could make good sense for casual media consumption in the home, and for anyone from students to retirees who want to keep in touch on the go (see earlier post).

(See, for example, the CNET review for a good overview of the iPad and how you might convince yourself that you need one, and David Pogue's dueling reviews in The New York Times, for the techie or not.)

Apple also has released the iTunes 9.1 update to manage and sync these new devices and media. This adds support for downloading new iPad-only applications and syncing with the iPad, plus iBooks support to organize and sync books from iBooks on the iPad or in the iTunes library. Apple also has extended the Genius Mixes feature so that you can rename, rearrange or remove your automatically-generated mixes.

(Unfortunately, be warned that the iTune 9.1 update has killed syncing for some devices, with an "Unable to load provider data from Sync Services" error. See the Apple Support Discussion thread for possible explanations from Windows DLL conflicts.)

For non-iPad owners, you can torture yourself by downloading iPad apps into iTunes, along with iBooks, but you then can't sync them with other iPod devices.

Apple has set up the E-books so they are actually are only accessible from the iPad -- You need to download the free iBooks app for the App Store (link to iTunes) to browse, preview, and buy the available books on the iPad itself (only available in the U.S. at this time).

(While you can't buy books on a computer, your iBook purchases on the iPad are backed up to your iTunes library when you sync -- see the Apple iBooks FAQ).

However, the iBookstore is not your only option for publications. Apple uses the open ePub standard format for electronic publications (see Wikipedia), so that you can download other free books (without the Apple DRM copy protection), drag and drop them into iTunes (under a new Books tab in the Library), and then sync them down to the iPad.

For example, you can find free public domain books in the ePub format at Project Gutenberg (30,000 books) and from Google Books (over 1 million books -- see the Google blog).

And what about E-books on other Apple devices like the iPhone and iPod touch? Can the touch be transformed into an "iPad mini" for reading? After all, iBooks is just an app that can display books, so what about other apps?

So choose the Books menu within the iTunes App Store to view a large collection of book reader apps and individual books (and collections like Shakespeare), available as downloadable apps, typically for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and now the iPad at full resolution.

In particular, Lexcycle Stanza is a free electronic book reader app with built-in downloading of over 100,000 books and periodicals, free and paid, from sources including Project Gutenberg and O'Reilly (link to iTunes). Stanza includes bookmarks and other navigation aids, as well as customized page display of page layout for easier reading.

So you may not have an iPad, yet, but you still can turn your iPod touch or iPhone into an "iPad mini" as a portable electronic book reader. In particular, you can find good deals in previous-generation iPod touch units that still can be upgraded to the latest software.

So see what you're missing, see Apple's iPad Guided Tours

See my Apple iPod / iPhone Gallery for details on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod products and product line history.

    Find the Apple iPod touch on Amazon.com

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